Workout of the Week: Bolder Shoulders

This Chuck Sipes–inspired powerbuilding workout will give you strong, freaky shoulders.

June 16, 2014

By Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS

Bob Hoffman (1898–1985), also known as “the Father of Weightlifting” owned York Barbell and was an important figure of strength training and muscle building until the 1960s. Hoffman used to say, “Build the strength and the shape will follow.”

By the 1960s, this adage changed. Hoisting heavy weights lost its relevancy to the almighty pump. That wasn’t all bad because powerbuilders train heavy and finish with pumping exercises. Both are essential for maximizing muscular development.

Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney once said, “The key to building massive, powerful muscles is to doggedly increase the training weights you use.” This even applies to pumping exercises. Just make sure you increase mechanical advantage and use momentum but never sacrifice technique, because you don’t want to actually change the movement. You want to get stronger in all movements, but never at the expense of perfect technique.

So what changed in the 1960s? Drugs! Steroids arrived on the scene in the late 1950s, and in the last couple decades insulin, HGH and others have come along for the ride. These drugs have contributed to building physical giants in regards to muscular development, but they’ve caused trainees to regress to mental dwarfism in regards to sound training practices.

Saying strength development doesn’t matter in pursuit of size development is pure hogwash.  Science and anecdotes concur.

Enter Chuck Sipes

Chuck Sipes was the quintessential powerbuilder. He was a champion bodybuilder, and for fun and extra income he performed strength feats for exhibitions. He loved bending steel. It wasn’t just a hobby for him, though; Sipes was one of the strongest men of his era, including strength athletes that weighed more than 300 pounds compared to Sipes’ 220 pounds.

He's one of my heroes and this week’s workout was heavily influenced by him.

The Workout

Sipes loaded two barbells and performed two movements. The first exercise was very heavy; the second exercise was meant to get the maximum pump. Sipes would move from exercise to exercise without delay. We’re doing the same thing although we’ll include dumbbell work in our program. We're doing three paired exercises of four supersets each. (click on each chart to see the bigger version)

Pair 1

Pair 2

Savickas Press: Set up the barbell on pins in a power rack be at chest level when seated on the floor.
 Sit in the floor with your legs out in front of you; your torso and thighs should be a 90-degree angle. Brace the core, lift the bar from the pins and then perform an overhead press.
You won’t be able to use your legs, pectorals or low back in any way. This move challenges your core and isolates your shoulders and triceps. Generally speaking, you’ll lift 75% or less of what you typically Military Press.

pair 3

Final Thoughts

Broad shoulders command the respect of men and melt the hearts of women. Virtually any athletic endeavor will benefit from stronger shoulders.

Time to hit the pig iron!

Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS, trains some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world in person at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and via the Internet. He is the co-author of Amazon # 1 selling book, Jailhouse Strong. To learn more about Josh Bryant or to sign up for his free training tips newsletter, visit